Welcome back to 2003… an imperial president looks to take a bad situation in the Middle East and make it worse, a secret war wages beyond the eyes of most Americans, even though they may be caught up in it, and endless scandals (“phony”, to be sure) play out in Washington, D.C. committee hearings. Actually, I guess there’s one big difference between now and then. Now, you’re much more racist.
If conservatives were great at cultural endeavors, we’d be churning out incendiary protest songs a la Rage Against the Machine and “American Idiot”-era Green Day. But… that’s not really our style (though we do a kick ass cover of The Star Spangled Banner).
What we can do, however, is engage in a little cultural re-distribution. It turns out there are quite a few songs out there written by lefties that fit quite comfortably on a conservative’s iPod these days. If you’re heading somewhere this holiday weekend, load up a few of these for the road trip.
#1. Bad Day – R.E.M.
When I was younger, I wanted to be the next Michael Stipe. I grew out of it as I grew disenchanted with their politics. Now, though, I can appreciate some of their songs in a way I’m sure Stipe never intended. “Bad Day” is a jangly up-tempo number reminiscent of “It’s The End of the World As We Know It (And I Feel Fine)”, this song dates back to the mid 80’s, though it didn’t appear on an album until R.E.M.’s 2003 “Best of” collection. Originally it attacked the media, but it seems much harder on D.C. these days.
Sample lyric: “A public service announcement followed me home the other day/I paid it never mind/go away/shit so thick you could stir it with a stick/free-teflon whitewashed presidency/we’re sick of being jerked around/wear that on your sleeve”
#2 New York City’s Killing Me – Ray LaMontagne
True, there’s no specific complaints about Mayor Bloomberg’s soda ban, stop-and-frisk policies, or gun control laws that deprive good people of their constitutional rights. Still, there’s no doubt where the protagonist of this song stands. Forget the concrete and the noise, and give me a quiet bar or a front porch with friends. And bourbon. Don’t forget the bourbon.
Sample lyric: “Just gotta get me somewhere/somewhere I can feel free/Get me out of New York City, son/New York City’s killing me.”
#3 Let’s Impeach The President – Neil Young
A laundry list of the sins of George W. Bush. And yet Neil Young, who made a career out of grumpily complaining about everything from southern men to beer commercials, hasn’t written anything comparable about Barack Obama. Perhaps because it’s because the song works almost as well when it’s about the current guy in the Oval Office. It’s still a Neil Young song, however, so you may not be able to actually get through the whole thing.
Sample lyric: Let’s impeach the president for spying/On citizens inside their own homes/Breaking every law in the country/By tapping our computers and cell phones
#4 You’re Not The Boss Of Me – They Might Be Giants
They Might Be Giants are the guys behind the theme to The Daily Show (and decades worth of weird and wonderful music) in addition to this theme song from “Malcolm In The Middle”. In a world full of Nudgeniks and Nannies, we need to remind ourselves that no one is perfect, including those who want to nudge us. This tune is the perfect complement to drinking a Big Gulp while you cruise down the highway in your gas powered car.
“You’re not the boss of me now and you’re not so big/Life is a test and I confess/I like this mess I’ve made so far/Grade on a curve and you’ll observe/I’m right below the horizon”
#5 Strange Days – The Doors
No one will ever confuse Jim Morrison with William F. Buckley. Then again, I had no idea L. Brent Bozell was a huge Phish fan (phan?) until recently. I’ve always taken this song to be about the onset of decadence, and authoritarianism, and the desire to maintain that spark of freedom that resides in every human soul. Or it could just be about a lot of drugs and a crazy party. You never know with The Lizard King.
“Strange days have found us/Strange days have tracked us down/They’re going to destroy/our casual joys/We shall go on playing or start/a new town.”
Cam Edwards is the radio host of NRA News. Follow him on Twitter @CamEdwards.